The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month . . . the guns went silent . . .
Hard to imagine what that day was like. We have letters Uncle Clarence sent from a field hospital within a few days of that time . . . he’d been gassed . . . survived the trenches . . . and was looking forward to his return home. He was one of tens of millions of Americans who have stood on that Thin Red Line . . . standing between the evils that might be but for him and his comrades.
In years gone by people were called to the ramparts to defend their community against those who wished to destroy them. Wives fought beside husbands . . . children beside parents . . . their fate dependent on their family’s strength.
As populations have grown, and the power of weapons and technology have leverage the strength of a single warrior a thousand fold, fewer and fewer hear the call of the warrior’s life. The Thin Red Line has grown thinner and thinner . . . while threats have grown steadily. Today only about 0.4% of our citizens are on duty protecting you, me, our children and grandchildren . . . 0.4%.
They follow in the footsteps of millions that have served our nation over the past 240 years. Men and women who heard the call of service to their country, left all that they held dear and took up arms. The debt we owe these men and women cannot be repaid, nor do they expect it. They served out of love, they bear their experiences with love and the vast majority would live that same life over should they be asked to.
So, what can we possibly offer them in return? Today, on this particular day, there is a simple answer to that . . .